Can some medications cause heat-related illnesses?

Can some medications cause heat-related illnesses?

People age 65 and older are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses as summer approaches.

One less commonly known factor that puts the elderly at risk is the medication they take, says Dr. Thomas Mullin, an emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

Heat stress, also known as hyperthermia, occurs when the body can no longer cool itself to maintain a healthy temperature and can cause heat-related illnesses. Such illnesses range from mild conditions like heat rash and cramps to severe conditions like heat stroke, which can be fatal if not treated properly.

Here are some common medications that can increase a person’s risk for heat-related illnesses, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

  • Antidepressants and antipsychotics can impede the body’s ability to disperse sweat.
  • Amphetamines, which range from stimulants for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to illegal stimulants like cocaine raise the body’s temperature.
  • Beta blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure and migraines, reduce blood pressure by blocking adrenaline and slowing down your heart beat.
  • Diuretics, also known as water pills, reduce the levels of sodium and water in your body and can quickly lead to dehydration.
  • Vasoconstrictors, which cover a variety of different medications, narrow the blood vessels.

“It’s best to check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure which specific medications might put you at risk,” Dr. Mullin says.

When it comes to caring for yourself or loved ones, Dr. Mullin says that those who are homebound are the most at risk, so it is important to check on people periodically on especially hot days. He also recommends using an air conditioner or multiple fans, staying indoors or in the shade on very hot days, and drinking plenty of water.

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One Comment

  1. How do all the old folks in Florida & Arizona survive in the heat???

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.